There are many reasons why cartoonists become cartoonists. But having been in this business a long time, and knowing a number of cartoonists, I have found that many of us began cartooning when we were little, as a coping mechanism. With cartooning, one can enter a world created by oneself. We are able to create worlds that are fun and funny, and work out our anxieties in drawing. We can make fun of that which is making us feel like oddballs. And best of all, if we show our cartoons to others, we get the approval of laughter. What could be better?
I know I started drawing cartoons to get approval and laughter from my mother and father, because our family was in turmoil. In high school, where I felt like an outsider, I found my friends enjoyed my drawing and I could impress them, too. It became my niche. It would be great if more girls could find cartooning, for it can be a way to express oneself and even be the class clown without having to “perform.” It’s a wonderful niche, and as difficult as this business is sometimes, cartooning has been my savior.
These are some of the thoughts that I will be sharing at my talk at a TEDWomen conference next month. Since women know the cultural rules so well, we are perfectly positioned to make fun of them. This is true around the globe, and I am seeing more women in many countries with diverse cultures discovering cartooning and getting recognition for their work. It’s wonderful.